Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 BLOG REVIEW

1) CHARLIE HEBDO LIVES  - CHARLIE HEBDO is as much a part of the fabric of French life as baguettes and Beaujolais. Difficult to define but just as important as Voltaire, Descartes and Sartre. Assassinating its artists and writers won't kill its spirit of iconoclasm that continues in the mind of every reader...

2) VIVE CHARLIE, VIVE LA FRANCE - On Sunday almost four million French people showed the world how to stand up to terrorism: we saw the descendants of the 1789 revolution (strengthened by immigrants) do what they do best, be gloriously French and not in a frou-frou and foie-gras way. Parisiens traditionally demonstrate when they're pissed off about political issues and, with the memory of the guillotine still resonating, politicians often listen. On Sunday the whole world listened, everyone was impressed, everyone was Charlie. ...

3) ANIMATION IS A MEDIUM NOT A GENRE - At last night’s Academy Awards, animation was once again referred to as a genre in front of the whole world. This must stop. Animation has come to be considered a genre because it’s the preferred medium for children’s films, especially in the US, where...

4) DISNEY AND THE SAME-FACE SYNDROME - It was disappointing to see a recent Twitter discussion about Disney’s CGI animation of female characters still mired in the same specious arguments that have been going on for the past two years, ever since Disney animator Lino DiSalvo made his notorious remarks...


5) PARIETAL ARTISTS - One day, 35,000 years ago, a group of homo sapiens were hunting bison in what would become Northern Spain. It wasn’t the first time they’d hunted together and they soon made a kill. As they skinned the beast and prepared the carcass for eating, one of the more observant hunters remarked on the color of the skin and the beauty of the beast they’d killed...
  

6) FILTERING REFERRER SPAM - I recently took my blog off-line to investigate sudden spikes of statistical activity with a 100% bounce rate. After going through Google Analytics with a fine-tooth comb, a picture of the shadier side of the web emerged. On one hand, it seems LUMIÈRE is a very popular name in Japan and China for some reason... On the other hand there was some phishing from fake Russian banks (worrying) but mostly the spikes were caused by...

7) GENRE WRITING - I don’t know about you but I'd rather not have to label my writing. If literary labeling needs to be done at all, (and, apart from broad categories like FICTION and NON-FICTION, I don't think it does) isn't it something for others to do? Like agents, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, readers?

 
8) MUST MAKE ART - After reading yet another article proclaiming that an artist “must make art” (You’re only a writer if you “must” write.) I can't help wondering if this is true. Wouldn’t it rather be non-artists who have to go out and earn a living doing something they hate who must do what they do?  There are two facets to this idea: obligation and inspiration. But what is the schedule for creating? Must you make art every day, once a week, bi-annually? ...

 
9) LA MARSEILLAISE


             Allons enfants de la Patrie,
           Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
           Contre nous de la tyrannie,
           L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)                          
          Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
          Mugir ces féroces soldats?
          Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
          Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes!



10) REALISM IN ANIMATION - I’m a big fan of animation for adults and, since professional animation directors seem reluctant to innovate in that direction, I’m glad to see live-action directors taking the initiative. First there was James Cameron using MotionCapture in AVATAR (not really animation) and now we have screenwriter Charlie Kaufman using stop-motion puppets with 3D-printed faces in his directorial début ANOMALISA. 
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ANIMATION, LAMARSEILLAISE, ART, WRITING, REFERRERS, DISNEY, FRANCE, PARIS

Friday, December 4, 2015

REALISM IN ANIMATION

I’m a big fan of animation for adults and, since professional animation directors seem reluctant to innovate in that direction, I’m glad to see live-action directors taking the initiative. First there was James Cameron using MotionCapture in AVATAR (not really animation) and now we have screenwriter Charlie Kaufman using stop-motion puppets with 3D-printed faces in his directorial début ANOMALISA.
 
Unfortunately, the characters in both films look unbearably creepy due to the Uncanny Valley effect of corpse-like faces and unnatural movements, even though the AVATAR characters were generated by human actors and the ANOMALISA faces were 3D printed from real people. But why, if you were going for so much realism, leave the seams showing on the ANOMALISA faces?



It’s a mistake to think that realistic images make realistic characters. Just ask Nick Park whose stylised claymation characters couldn’t be less realistic, but their down-to-earth voices and finely observed gestures make them very human. The place for realism in animation is in the movement and in the voices.
 

And, no matter how moving the dialogue or profound the script, words alone will not make you character come alive either. Words are not what move an audience, it’s how they’re delivered that’s affecting. It’s the  expression, the small familiar gestures that accompany them that connect us to a character on the screen. When an audience is staring in horror at Zombie faces, they tend not to even hear the dialogue.  

The power of a non-human performance is all about acting with face and body done by expert animators who spend a lifetime studying human and animal behavior and movement. It has nothing to do with the photorealism of CGI or 3D printed faces of live people or motion captured by actors. Done well, any animated object can move an audience (the TOY STORIES), a drawn animal can make you cry (BAMBI) and a CGI-generated cartoon character can win Oscars and thrill a whole generation (FROZEN).


ANOMALISA may win prizes for writing and novelty but it shouldn’t for animation. I applaud Charlie Kaufman’s effort to educate audiences to expect more from the medium of animation and hope more film makers, especially US ones, will use animation as a medium to tell more adult stories like PERSEPOLIS and WALTZ WITH BASHIR, remembering that just because it's for adults it doesn't have to look realistic.


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ANIMATION, STOPMOTION, CGI, UNCANNY VALLEY, ANIMATION IS A MEDIUM

Saturday, November 14, 2015

LA MARSEILLAISE


Written by Rouget de Lisle when France
declared war against Austria in 1792,
LA MARSEILLAISE,
seen here personified by Rude 
on the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile in Paris,
was often mocked for the ferocity
and blood-thirstiness of its words.
Today they seem apt.
There are many many words to La Marseillaise
but only the following verse and refrain are usually sung:

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons! (bis)

 
Arise, children of the Motherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny's
Bloody banner is raised,(repeat)
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into our arms
To cut the throats of our sons, our companions!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let's march, let's march!
So impure blood
Flows in our furrows! (Repeat)


Drawing by Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar

No prayers for Paris, thank you. Fluctuat nec mergitur!
Paris is an ancient city, it has seen many other terrorist campaigns and wars, some of which brought it to its knees but didn’t stop it rising again
to be the epitome of love, beauty, freedom and joie-de-vivre 
that the world knows and loves.
Vive Paris et vive la France! 

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                Paris, Fluctuat nec Mergitur, IgnoramusesAttackParis,
                      Don'tPrayForParis, La Marseillaise, France

Saturday, August 29, 2015

MUST MAKE ART

After reading yet another article proclaiming that an artist “must make art” (You’re only a writer if you “must” write.) I can't help wondering if this is true. Wouldn’t it rather be non-artists who have to go out and earn a living doing something they hate who must do what they do? 

There are two facets to this idea: obligation and inspiration. But what is the schedule for creating? Must you make art every day, once a week, bi-annually?

The inspirational aspect would be that we have to do it because the urge to write/paint, dance/compose etc. is so strong that a real artist can't resist it. This is a very seductive but unrealistic idea. Inspiration doesn't happen every day and just because you don’t write every day doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. The same goes for painters, dancers, sculptors and musicians. As a matter of fact some people think it’s a bad idea to try to write every day, to schedule creativity. Read Lev Raphael's thoughts on the subject.

Artists don’t create all the time. We don’t do it every day. We do it when we feel like it. If we want to make something good, even great, we wait until the idea is fully cooked before we execute it. Creating every day because we've been told to leads to half-baked, mediocre art. Even commercial art that has to adhere to a deadline takes thought and thought takes time. Usually longer than a day. To make good art we must fritter and procrastinate for a while as we think. Very little good art is ever created spontaneously without considerable thought. ("Must fritter" would be a better idea.)

Like Picasso’s lengthy pondering on how to render a three-dimensional effect in a two-dimensional painting which lead to his creating Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (above) which eventually evolved into cubism.
 
“I’m an artist, I must make art” is a grand statement that was probably made in a passionate moment and it may make some people feel important but mostly it creates pressure, making us feel like frauds deficient in passion or talent if we’re not driven to make art every day. Feeling obligated isn’t conducive to producing good art. It's a wise artist who waits until they're ready rather than rushing into art unprepared.

When inspiration does strike however, it’s a different matter. Artists can withdraw into a zone of creativity for days or weeks, even longer. We don’t want to talk or think of anything but the creation. It’s like falling in love. Like Pygmalion and Galatea. Nothing else exists. That’s when we “must” and do create.

But it’s temporary. Thanks goodness, or we’d all be dead from too much passion and there’d be no more art at all. 

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                                             ART, WRITING, CREATING, PASSION

Friday, July 17, 2015

GENRE WRITING

I don’t know about you but I'd rather not have to label my writing. 

If literary labeling needs to be done at all, (and, apart from broad categories like FICTION and NON-FICTION, I don't think it does) isn't it something for others to do? Like agents, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, readers?
 

Agents are now classified by genre and books are “genrified” by their covers, blurbs and promotion. Even some publishers are classified by genre. So, by simply choosing an agent, I’m labeling my work. And, by labeling my work I'm making an unwanted mission-statement and writing for a limited audience.

Labels are limiting and they often dumb-down for age and gender. Gender genres like “women’s fiction”, “romance” and “thriller”, can prevent readers from branching out and reading more eclectically. By the way, in the absence of the genre “Men’s Fiction”, should we assume that all good fiction is "Men's Fiction?  

Literary labels are supposedly a guide for readers but aren’t they more of a marketing tool for publishers? Here’s a chat by Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro on the subject. 

Everything today seems to need a label, a mission statement or a sub-title. The better to sell it. People even subtitle life itself these days by muttering "awkward" during a pause in conversation. I think this comes from TV and movies which is another "genre". Many writers write with a movie deal in mind.

Writing for a "genre" must surely discourage unique voices. We’re told “voice is everything” but if your “voice” doesn’t fit a genre will anybody hear it?

Is literature considered a genre? Is any book with big words and deep thoughts literature? Or does the sheer length of a book make it literature? THE GOLDFINCH, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, INFINITE JEST, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX?

Would these classics now have the Young Adult label:
CATCHER IN THE RYE, ROMEO AND JULIET, GREAT EXPECTATIONS? Would MADAME BOVARY be considered “romance”? Would MOBY DICK be a “suspense thriller”? GONE WITH THE WIND: “chick lit”? CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: “crime”?

And how long would we tolerate the concept of GENRE if the English word TYPE/KIND/SORT were used instead? Would we want to be called TYPE WRITERS?


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WRITING, GENRES, SUBTITLES, LABELS, LITERATURE, FICTION

Sunday, July 12, 2015

FILTERING REFERRER SPAM

I recently took my blog off-line to investigate sudden spikes of statistical activity with a 98% bounce rate. 

After going through Google Analytics with a fine-tooth comb, a picture of the shadier side of the web emerged. On one hand, it seems LUMIÈRE is a very popular name in Japan and China for some reason and there were visits from LUMIÈRE hotels, wineries and global markets in Japan and a cinema investment company in China.

On the other hand there was some phishing from fake Russian banks (worrying) but mostly the spikes were caused by REFERRER SPAM bots impersonating a referral link. This pseudo traffic is designed to make their domain show up in your site analytics so that you’ll visit their site.

By far the most referrer spam my blog gets is from “not set” which  GA’s map indicates is in Nigeria (again, worrying) and from Russia. All these referrers skew GA data so you have no idea how much genuine traffic your blog is getting. Some of these bots can install porn, viruses or malware URLs on your blog if your security isn't tight. They can also make you blog look spammy and cause Google to demote its ranking.

You may be familiar with this problem but if, like me, you had no idea this stuff existed, you can find out if you have unwanted referrers by going to GA>traffic>referrals. There’s not much point in listing them as they change constantly. The most long-lasting and problematic one seems to be SEMALT in various iterations. The most prolific on my blog currently are variations of: trafficmonetize, 4webmasters, event-tracking, free-social-buttons, floating-share-buttons.

Here’s a helpful link that will explain what referrer spam is and how to quickly filter it out of your Blogger and WordPress blogs.

And by the way, these referrers are not contagious. Legitimate readers can visit my secure blog in complete safety.
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 REFERRERS, SPAMMERS, NIGERIA, RUSSIA, CONTENT THEFT, ID THEFT, 
BLOG SECURITY,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

PARIETAL ARTISTS

One day, 35,000 years ago, a group of homo sapiens were hunting bison in what would become Northern Spain. It wasn’t the first time they’d hunted together and they soon made a kill. As they skinned the beast and prepared the carcass for eating, one of the more observant hunters remarked on the color of the skin and the beauty of the beast they’d killed.
    “Beauty?” said his co-hunters looking at the bloody carcass, perplexed.
    “Yes,” he said picking up a stick and drawing in the sand as the herd had run off by then. “Their back has lovely angles with a tuft of fur on it here and the horns are fine S-curves.”  When he mis-drew, he smoothed the sand and redrew the shape of the bison.
    His mates were impressed.
    “Wow, you’re good at this. That looks just like it.”
    “Did you notice its legs are darker than its body? An elegant animal.”
    “I know a deep cave where you can draw that on the walls and it will last longer than the sand.”

 

Is this how parietal art came to be?
However it happened or why, Paleolithic people did make many finely observed studies of the animals they hunted and of their fellow hunters and above all they selected deep caves protected from the elements to paint in. And because they did we can be moved and inspired by what those artists saw 35,000 or so years ago. One of those anonymous parietal artists could even have reached through the millennia and influenced some of Picasso’s very modern drawings.

People today arrogantly wonder how Paleolithic people could be so talented and observant 35,000 years ago. And why not? They were of the homo sapiens  persuasion, just like us, why would they not be able to observe their surroundings and record them just as skillfully as we do? Human inventions and cultures may have evolved greatly but actual humans haven't.
 

People also wonder why these artists made their finely observed paintings and drawings in caves where they apparently didn’t live. Perhaps as legacies to the future? Perhaps these well-protected caves were considered the museums of the time and Paleolithic people went there to marvel at the art, just as we do today and future generations will too. Ars longa, vita brevis n'est-ce pas?


     Top left: Altamira 23,000-34,000 BCE  / Top right: Picasso's "Bull - Plate 5" 1945 
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                 ART, PALEOLITHIC ART, PARIETAL ART, LASCAUX, CHAUVET, ALTAMIRA

Friday, March 20, 2015

DISNEY and the "SAME FACE SYNDROME"

It was disappointing to see a recent Twitter discussion about Disney’s CGI animation of female characters still mired in the same specious arguments that have been going on for the past two years, ever since Disney animator Lino DiSalvo made his notoriously misinterpreted remarks on the technical difficulties of animating CGI princesses back in 2013:  “Historically speaking, animating female characters are (sic) really, really difficult, ’cause they have to go through these range of emotions, but they’re very, very — you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna (Kristen Bell) being angry.”

Confusion and willful misunderstanding persist despite explanations from professional animators and this statement from a Disney spokesperson“Animation is an intricate and complex art form. These comments were recklessly taken out of context. As part of a roundtable discussion, the animator was describing some technical aspects of CG animation and not making a general comment on animating females versus males or other characters.”
 

Come on folks, there's plenty of real sexism and misogyny in the animation industry, no need to pick on talented and hard-working Disney designers. Most of the online complaints about Lino’s remarks, some quite angry, are from non-animators and go like this:

1) Lino Disalvo said females are hard to animate because they’re sensitive and have all these emotions. Actually he didn’t say this, read the quote carefully.

2) Disney thinks all females look alike. There’s been a big-eyed, small nosed Glen Keane-designed leading lady type since the 1990s starting with Ariel, Jasmine and Belle, all the way to Rapunzel and beyond. Odd that nobody complained about the hand-drawn female faces. Is it the photorealism of CGI that makes audiences more critical? There’s a fine line between a brand and CGI’s “same face syndrome” . It would be a shame if branding were being imposed on Disney designers and Disney animated feature films were becoming commercials featuring Disney product placements.

3) Female characters are harder to animate than males. Again, Lino did not say this. Read the quote above.

5) Females in animated movies shouldn’t have to be pretty. These ones do. They’re not just pretty faces they’re Disney’s top-of-the-line, insanely lucrative billion dollar PRINCESS BRAND. And when your brand makes $1,274,219,009 billion dollars for one film would you change it? A beautiful brand is a valuable asset. Just ask Apple. Movie stars (and animated leading ladies are movie stars) have always been beautiful. Beauty has power including the power to sell, whether we like it or not. A bad role model for little girls? It’s fantasy and we all need fantasy whether it’s fairy tales or Fifty Shades of Grey. These little girls grow up to demand Cinderella wedding dresses, Disney weddings and honeymoons on Disney island. The fact that most of them don’t look remotely like the Disney princesses would suggest they are not influenced by the princesses’ looks at all but rather by the idea of her.

4) English animator Joanna Quinn said: “It’s not at all hard to draw women showing emotions.Well no it isn't, except these women are not drawn, they’re built and rigged in CGI which has its own special challenges. *See below.

6)  “Every woman in every Disney/Pixar movie in the past decade has the exact same face.” This ill-informed post compares apples to oranges by mixing Disney/Pixar leading men with cartoony supporting male characters and comparing them to princesses. (By the way, tracing chins proves nothing and too many people are misguidedly using this post to illustrate a non-existent point.) Female characters in supporting roles have more diverse faces, like Mother Gothel, Edna Mode, the witch in Brave.

7) CGI has a “SAME-FACE SYNDROME” (where mainly female faces resemble each other). This problem can be easily remedied by switching to traditional 2D animation about which none of these complaints has been made. On the contrary, people usually complain that all the hand-drawn PRINCES look the same!

As any animation professional can tell you, Lino DiSalvo’s remarks are not sexist they merely refer to technical difficulties with CGI rigging. He was trying to say that it’s difficult to keep a pretty female character on model (looking like herself) without her getting ugly when she grimaces with emotion. Look at the original model sheet for Tarzan’s JANE below, then at the CGI version and then the video (with facial rigging) and you’ll see how much she deviates from the model especially when she starts emoting.


The model for Jane was drawn by former Disney animator Ken Duncan 
of DUNCAN STUDIO and the CGI version done by Eyad Hussein, a student at AnimSchool.

While it’s a good thing that audiences are now aware of the animation industry’s misogyny on film and in the studio and are demanding changes, the gratuitous accusations above have created a false controversy. By all means, criticize Disney and other animation studios for treating women disrespectfully, for not giving them equal pay and equal opportunities to write and direct, for representing women as fluffy flibbertigibbets in their films and for possibly imposing a brand on their designers, but labeling misconceptions about technical problems as sexist, distracts from real sexism and misogyny in the industry.
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ANIMATION, CGI , 2D, 3D, HAND-DRAWN ANIMATION, SAME-FACE SYNDROME, DISNEY, FROZEN

Monday, February 23, 2015

ANIMATION IS A MEDIUM NOT A GENRE

At last night’s Academy Awards, animation was once again referred to as a genre in front of the whole world. This must stop. 

GENRE is French for a sort or kind of thing, a category.
MEDIUM is a means of doing something.


Animation has come to be considered a genre because it’s the preferred medium for children’s films, especially in the US, where Disney, with their fairy tale franchise, is the main proponent. 


If only animation studios would broaden their field to include other subjects we wouldn't have this problem of mistaking animation for a genre. That a formerly innovative studio like Disney would limit its output to one genre is a shame. You'd think they'd want to expand their audience by making animated films in other genres like animated action films or animated sci-fi especially since they own the Marvel Comics and the Star War franchises.

Because Disney does some of the best animation in the world don't they owe their audience high quality entertainment in other genres?  New technology and artistic techniques need new subjects. We’re not asking Disney to change, just to diversify. And DreamWorks, Sony, Fox, Blue Sky and Universal too. 

In Europe and elsewhere, animation has been used to make adult films such as
the French-Iranian PERSEPOLIS, the Israeli war film WALTZ WITH BASHIR and  Sylvain Chomet’s French Oscar-nominated TRIPLETTES de BELLEVILLE. It’s disappointing that few, if any, adventurous genres have been tackled in animation since.

We know it’s a box-office argument as animation costs are so high, however these
animated films were profitable:

BASHIR cost $2million and grossed $11,125,849 
PERSEPOLIS cost $7.3 million and grossed $22,752,488
LES TRIPLETTES de BELLEVILLE cost 9.5 million and grossed $14,776.760

 

Not in FROZEN’s mind-blowing $1,274,219,009 league, but profitable none the less.

It would seem that it’s not so much a question of losing money on a different genre of animation, but of making a more modest profit. And who’s to say that any of those films would not have grossed much more with the Disney promotional machine behind them?

Come on Disney, you are plenty rich enough to take such a risk especially after sweeping the animation Academy Awards this year. DreamWorks, you're a young studio needing a new direction, take a chance on new animation frontiers, go boldly into new genres where no folk-tale franchise has gone before to make it clear that animation is a versatile medium and a sophisticated art, it’s the subject that’s the genre.


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ANIMATION, GENRE, MEDIUM, ANIMATIONISNOTAGENRE, DISNEY, DREAMWORKS, FOX

Friday, February 13, 2015

ANIMATION OSCAR NOMINATIONS 2015

5 SHORTS:

The BIGGER PICTURE - National Film and Television School, UK  – Winner of many prizes including Cannes, Annecy. Written, directed and animated by Daisy Jacobs, produced by Christopher Hees. Unusual technique, serious subject: two brothers struggling to care for their elderly mother. Life-sized painted characters with stop-motion props.

The DAM KEEPER - Tonko House Studios, US. Written and directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kindo and Dice Tsutsumi. CGI with a look of translucent pastels and stunning lighting. The usual warm fuzzy Pixney-type story of trying to make friends and fit in.

FEAST - Disney Animation, US. Directed by Patrick Osborne, produced by Kristina Reed, John Lasseter. A puppy is alarmed by his diet. Strong visual story-telling with a lineless, flat look. The animation is, as always, wonderful but I miss lines. It's not drawing without lines.
CGI with the Meander software used in PAPERMAN. (OSCAR winner 2015)

ME AND MY MOULTON - Mikrofilm and the National Film Board of Canada, Canada. Written and directed by Torrill Kove, animated in Norway and Canada. Girls wanting a bicycle get what they didnt expect and handle their disappointment with grace. Charming, stylish, touching, funny and hand-drawn.

A SINGLE LIFE - Dutch Film Fund, SNS Real Fund and Pathé Cinemas, Holland. Directed by Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen, written by Marieke Blaauw. A vinyl record lets Pia travel through the five stages of her life. A very short short with a very grim ending. CGI

5 FEATURES:

BIG HERO 6 - Disney Animation, US. Directed by Don Hall, Chris Williams written by Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson. Features Marvel comics characters: a nurse/robot Baymax and robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his friends. Strong Asian flavor. CGI (Oscar winner 2015, a sweep for Disney)

THE BOX TROLLS  - Laika Studios, US. Directed by Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi, written by Irena Brignull, Adam Pava, Alan Snow. Based on the novel Here Be Monsters, a human boy named Eggs is raised by trolls and tries to save them from the exterminator. Stop-motion.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 -  DreamWorks, US. Directed by Dean DeBlois, written by Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell. The further Viking adventures of Hiccup and Toothless. CGI.

SONG OF THE SEA - Cartoon Saloon, Ireland. Directed and directed by Tomm Moore, Will Collins. Inspired by Irish folklore, Ben and his littel sister travel through a magical world to return to their home. Hand-drawn.

THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA -  Studio Ghibli, Japan.
Directed and written by Isao Takahata. A tiny girl found in a bamboo shoot is raised as a princess by a bamboo cutter. Hand-drawn.    
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ANIMATION, OSCARS, CGI, HANDDRAWN, MEANDER, STOPMOTION,


Monday, January 12, 2015

VIVE CHARLIE, VIVE LA FRANCE

On Sunday almost four million French people showed the world how to stand up to terrorism: we saw the descendants of the 1789 revolution (strengthened by immigrants) do what they do best, be gloriously French and not in a frou-frou and foie-gras way. Parisiens traditionally demonstrate when they're pissed off about political issues and, with the memory of the guillotine still resonating, politicians often listen. On Sunday the whole world listened, everyone was impressed, everyone was Charlie
 
We were reminded who invented the phrases SAVOIR FAIRE, JOIE DE VIVRE and that the motto of Paris is FLUCTUAT NEC MERGITUR, shaken but not sunk. And, even though a little more EGALITE and FRATERNITE are needed to go with the great tradition of LIBERTE, (brought to mind by the names of the streets and squares where the people marched: Place de a République, Boulevard Voltaire, Place de la Nation) the massive march joined the many other historic events of this ancient nation. Time to change the label to "cheese-eating terrorist-defiers", don't you think?
 

Some defiant and thoughtful placards:  
                    
Je pense doc je suis Charlie
Morts de rire
Je suis Musulman, pas de panique.
Je suis Charlie, je suis flic, je suis juif.
Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer, Liberté
Soyons a la hauteur de notre liberté

And of course, there was the singing of the blood-thirsty national anthem, La Marseillaise whose words have, once again, come to reflect recent events. You can hear the crowd's renditions of it here along with other sounds of the march: chants, relaxed chatter, laughter, wisecracking cops firmly moving the crowd along ("Non, madame you won't see the president, believe me.")

By the way, how shabby of US leadership not to participate. So disrespectful.


On Wednesday, when CHARLIE HEBDO is published as usual, we'll continue to be CHARLIE by buying a copy and by subscribing. CHARIE HEBDO's cartoons
may be offensive and vulgar and anarchistic, they may not be the most subtle or the height of cartoon art, but they represent the height of freedom of expression. When I hear people speaking prissiy about exercising "good taste" and "not asking for trouble" then denying that’s self-censorship, I want to take out my pencil and draw a cartoon. 

So, let's be CHARLIE today, tomorrow and next year. Let's give jobs to Muslims so they don’t have to change their name to d'Artagnan just to get an interview as did one enterprising French muslim, let's be more tolerant of differences and above all, let's not listen to the siren song of Marine Lepen.



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JESUISCHARLIE, PARIS, FREEDOMofEXPRESSION, CHARLIEHEBDO, MILLIONFRENCHMANMARCH, FRANCE

Thursday, January 8, 2015

CHARLIE HEBDO LIVES

CHARLIE HEBDO is as much a part of    the fabric of French life as baguettes and Beaujolais. Difficult to define but just as important as Voltaire, Descartes and Sartre.

Assassinating its artists and writers won't kill its spirit of iconoclasm that continues in the mind of every reader.

And now that cheeky irreverence has reached millions more who had never even heard of CHARLIE HEBDO before yesterday's act of savage ignorance propelled it into their lives.

Today, all over the world, people are reading CHARLIE HEBDO, laughing at the cartoons, having their minds opened, changed and jolted by it. And next Wednesday, CHARLIE HEBDO will be published as usual in all its crass, offensive glory.

We pay hommage to the brave artists, journalists and others who died for the freedom of expression yesterday:
 

Frédéric Boisseau (janitor)
Franck Brinsolaro (Charb's police bodyguard)
Jean Cabut "Cabu" (cartoonist)
Elsa Cayat (psychoanalyst and columnist)
Stéphane Charbonnier "Charb" (cartoonist and editor-in-chief) 
Philippe Honoré (cartoonist)
Bernard Maris (economist, editor, columnist)
 Ahmed Merabet (police officer)
Mustapha Orrad (proofreader)
Michel Renaud (guest)
Georges Wolinski (cartoonist)
        
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   CHARLIE HEBDO est mort, vive CHARLIE HEBDO.  
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#JESUISCHARLIE, CHARLIE HEBDO, LIBERTE, FREEDOM of EXPRSSION, #FLUCTUATnecMERGITUR, FRANCE